Towering almost 15,000 feet above sea level, the lush Parc National des Volcans is home to a large population of mountain gorillas.
About Parc National des Volcans
Located in northwestern Rwanda, great, old volcanoes covered in rich, green rainforest tower up to almost 15,000 feet – the Virungas.
Not only is this park beautiful, the lush slopes of the volcanoes provide an appropriately dramatic natural setting for what is perhaps the most poignant and thrilling wildlife experience to be had anywhere – to see the mountain gorilla in its natural habitat. Roughly half of the world wild population of mountain gorillas are resident on the Rwandan slopes of the Virungas. Ten habituated families of gorillas are visited, and these families have from seven to over thirty-five individuals in each.
An exhilarating trek through the cultivated foothills of the Virungas serves stirring views in all directions before the trail enters the National Park, immersing trekkers in the rainforest’s mysterious intimacy. Alive with the calls of colourful birds and the chattering of the rare golden monkey, and littered with fresh spoor of the mountain’s elusive herds of buffalo and elephant, the rainforest offers a truly unique safari experience.
Through the gaps in the forest canopy you can see the magnificent peaks which are amongst the highest in Africa. The Virungas consist of five volcanoes, the tallest being Karisimbi, which peaks at 15,000 feet.
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- Mountain gorilla trekking experience
- Stunning views of the Virunga Mountains
- First class camps and lodges
- Mountain landscapes and African rainforests
Top Reasons To Visit Parc Nationale des Volcans
Often the best safaris involve looking beyond the obvious highlights. It’s about the exhilarating encounters that will make your heart sing. These are encounters that nobody could ever predict, but that make your safari genuinely unique.
Best time to visit Parc Nationale des Volcans
Mountain gorilla treks can be completed any time of the year, but the long dry season from June to September is best when the weather will give you relatively warm days and cooler nights.
The climate in Rwanda is split up into two rainy seasons and two dry seasons. The shorter dry season lasts from December to February, while the longer dry season is between June and September. The shorter rainy season between October and November provides a welcome break between the dry seasons, while the longer wet season lasts from March to May.
While mountain gorillas can be seen any time during the year, you might feel safer—and cleaner—by timing your visit during the long dry season, after the ground has had time to dry out. Gorillas tend to seek shelter during the wet seasons, making it slightly more difficult to spot them. However, this time is also quieter and lodges generally offer some discounted rates for visitors.
The rainy months also bring fresh vegetation with luscious green scenery. If you’re wanting to see the families of chimpanzees, we’d recommend visiting during this season, as the ripe fruit in the trees entices the chimps down to the lower parts of the forest canopy.
Best time to visit Parc Nationale des Volcans
Our Favourite Camps & Lodges
Gorilla’s Nest is a well-established lodge close to the trailhead of the gorilla trekking expeditions and is a practical as well as exceedingly comfortable place to base yourself.Learn More
Set in a 43 hectare plot of reclaimed farmland in the natural amphitheatre of an ancient volcano cone, Bisate combines iconic architecture with visionary reforestation while facilitating the ultimate bucket-list experience, gorilla tracking.Learn More
Virunga Lodge boasts one of the most stunning settings of any safari camp in Africa, strung along a ridge with panoramic views of the Virunga Volcanoes and the beautiful Ruhondo and Bulera Lakes.Learn More
Less than half an hour drive from the Park headquarters and striking out point for gorilla treks, Sabyinyo is amongst the most luxurious lodges in the area while maintaining an authentic safari feel.Learn More
Parc Nationale des Volcans NEED TO KNOW
Are the volcanoes of Parc National Des Volcans active?
The Parc National Des Volcans encompasses five of the eight volcanoes that make up the Virungas: Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga, and Sabyinyo. Of these, Karisimbi, Bisoke, and Gahinga are dormant, and Muhabara and Sabyinyo are extinct. Volcanologists do not expect any activity from the dormant volcanoes for the foreseeable future.
Am I guaranteed to see gorillas in Parc National Des Volcans?
It’s important to remember that there is never a guarantee. However, the park is home to more than half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas and is probably the best place in the world to see them in the wild.
Mountain Gorillas are fairly sedentary and largely terrestrial, and the rich pickings in these volcanic mountains mean they seldom beed to travel far. Perhaps the most surprising thing about Gorillas is just how unbothered they are by human presence – and therefore unlike in many mammal encounters its not a really a question of stealth, so if they are approached slowly and quietly are unlikely to move away and will simply continue whatever it was they were doing.You will be tracking the gorillas with your specialist guides who have extensive experience in the forests and will be well informed on their location.
What is the best way to explore Parc National Des Volcans?
Spending a few days trekking in the mountains is perhaps the best way to explore the park. Choose from the variety of top quality lodges available for you to spend your evenings to kick back and relax after a day hiking around the mountains. Every lodge offers delicious meals and hospitality that’s second to none.
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